Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Nov 2006 22:56 UTC
Novell and Ximian "Often cast as the peacemaker in free software disputes, Bruce Perens is on the warpath. When we caught up with him, he wasn't in a mood to be charitable to Novell. On Friday the Utah company, which markets the SuSE Linux distribution, revealed that it was entering into a partnership with Microsoft. Redmond would pay Novell an undisclosed sum in return for Novell recognizing Microsoft's intellectual property claims. Novell received a 'Covenant' promising that it wouldn't be sued by Microsoft."It's a case of 'Damn the people who write the software'", he told us. "Novell is in a desperate position - it has a smaller share of the market than Debian,"" he told The Register. Update: Novell responds to community's questions: here, here and here. Update 2: Havoc Pennington's take.
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Marcellus
Member since:
2005-08-26

While MS engineers and developers are most certainly capable of looking at asm and C code, there may be legal implications in doing that.

API's have a tendency to leave things unclear at times (yes, even in Windows), so only using API's to determine what needs to be done is not that good an option either.

At least economically it makes more sense to work together with the "other side" so that both sides can agree on what things mean.

If Novell customers have been worried that MS may go after them regarding eventual patents that may cover some part of Linux or other software that is included with their Linux distribution, the patent covenant makes it clear that MS will not go after them if any such patents are found. The same goes for MS customers that are worried about Novell.

Reply Parent Score: 1

hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//While MS engineers and developers are most certainly capable of looking at asm and C code, there may be legal implications in doing that. //

No.

GPL code is copyrighted code. Under copyright law, anyone may look at the code (just as anyone may read a copyrighted book), but one is restricted as to what one can do when it comes to copying the code.

In the case of the GPL, it gives anyone a license to copy and modify the code, provided that the code and any modifications remains visible to everyone ... ie. provided that the code remains licensed under the GPL.

There is most decidedly no restriction on looking at the code & studying it.

"Legal implications" pertaining to restrictions about looking at and studying code apply to code which is patented or trade secret. Neither of those apply to Linux and/or any other GPL code.

//At least economically it makes more sense to work together with the "other side" so that both sides can agree on what things mean. //

Literally many thousands upon thousands of programmers worldwide contribute meaningfully to GPL code repositories. They do this collaboration over the Internet, mostly via mailing lists and discussion forums. Why should it be the case that only Microsoft programmers need to "work together" in a different way?

Edited 2006-11-08 10:21

Reply Parent Score: 2

Marcellus Member since:
2005-08-26

There is most decidedly no restriction on looking at the code & studying it.

I wouldn't be so certain about that without consulting a lawyer first.

Literally many thousands upon thousands of programmers worldwide contribute meaningfully to GPL code repositories. They do this collaboration over the Internet, mostly via mailing lists and discussion forums. Why should it be the case that only Microsoft programmers need to "work together" in a different way?

The world contains more developers than those employed by Microsoft and those that work on Open Source. Lots "work together" in the same way.
Of course, if no money is involved at all, the concept of working together because it's more economical fails, but that was just one reason anyway.

Reply Parent Score: 1

elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

There is most decidedly no restriction on looking at the code & studying it.

For closed-source software companies, particularly one with as big a bullseye painted on them as Microsoft, there is a legitimate concern in that paid developers may inadvertently copy the code they are studying, tainting the product and opening them up to claims. OSS projects often employ a clean-room technique when reverse engineering or working on interoperability to eliminate possible claims of stolen or copied code. Even large linux developers like HP or IBM will seperate their OSS and proprietary developers, you can't mix and match without running the risk of code taint.

For Microsoft's sake it's safer and easier to let the OSS guys provide the information rather than try to dissect it themselves. That's about the only single part of this ridiculous agreement that makes sense.

Reply Parent Score: 1